Archive for the ‘Singapore’ category

Stop Whining and do Something

24 April, 2007

I’ve been reading article after article on how screwed up the ministers are for extorting money from the people and not listening to your opinions and seriously, I’m sick of it.

There is a reason they don’t care about all your whining. Its the very simple fact that they don’t have to because honestly, what are you going to do about it? You vote them back and give them power every time they screw you over, yes, that’s you, the pap bitch.

Yes I know I’ll get lots of flak for this but the truth hurts. Its time to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask ourselves why we are where we are. This is not the first time we have been screwed over but why are they in power?

Why can they censor what we read and say, pay themselves obscene salaries after raising taxes, throw our men into slavery (yes conscription ablbeit in the guise of its euphamism NS, is slavery,ask the great economist Milton Friedman),  misappropriate our money ( Bet you didn’t know CPF is a good way to get money to finance short to medium term needs with low interest) and brainwash our children with history textbooks skewed to their side and yet stay in power(yes I bet all communists were evil people trying to kill us all)? Because we voted them back, election after election. Yes, that’s our responsibility, so stop whining.

The fact is, even if this is a Potemkin democracy, we have little excuse to sit on our butts and whine and do nothing else. Its no wonder they have no respect for Singaporeans. I have little respect for Singaporeans after seeing such behaviour.

So if you still feel anything for Singapore, please educate those around you about the role of the government(eg. not ripping its people off) and do something about it. Whining will not help.

The Difference Between Capitalism and Extortion

26 March, 2007

I haven’t written for months now because I’ve been lazy, but the recent furore over ministerial pay in Singapore has forced me to defend capitalism once again. Not content with abusing the concept of Democracy, the paps have decided to mar the name of capitalism.

What happened is that they have decided to raise ministerial pay from $1.2 million to $2.2 million because the top few earners in the private sector earn that much.  This, according to them, will help attract talent and reduce the temptation to accept bribes, after all, we don’t want them to be underpaid and act like the directors in Enron now would we?

The fact is, capitalism cannot be used to explain what is happening here. In a capitalist society, consumers get to choose what they want. Investors get to choose what they want as well, as they buy and sell stocks. Neither situation is happening here. The elections were a farce, the fact is, with most of the voting districts unable to vote, Singapore wouldn’t qualify as a Potemkin Democracy.

So without the freedom of choice, the Capitalist argument cannot be applied here. This isn’t Capitalism, it’s extortion. In a Capitalist society, activists would give such leaders would get the boot and not fear imprisonment. Right now, there’s nothing Singaporeans can do.

The only purpose of this entry is to defend Capitalism. I am not as naive as to think that anything will stop our coffers from being raided.

State of the Propaganda Machine

1 October, 2006

I know just how sick most of you must be of me writing about the state of the media in Singapore but the Singapore Press Holdings has been generating more news than what it is allowed to report after all that censorship. Throughout the past week, I’ve read article after article of how they plan to control every single thing that Singaporeans have access to. They either throw money at them and buy them over like Hardware Zone, or they get them banned for reporting news, which of course they can’t, like FEER. And in a spectacular display of stupdity, they have turned against one of their own, the National Arts Council. I wonder what they are going to do next.

Time and time again, I have written about how stupid it is to try to shut your critics up by banning them. Most of the criticism is due to them trying to shut people up and the best way for the critics to prove their point is to get themselves banned. Duh. Ah well, that has proved be beyond the reach of the puny minds of the government cronies. The fact is that they seemed not to have learnt their lesson after the IMF meeting earlier when they were forced to back down on their stand against protesters. While they can oppress the 4 million people who stay here, they will not be able to control the whole world. Meanwhile, they are wondering why expatriate Singaporeans, who they say are assets to the country, are unwilling to return. Once again, Duh.

Anyway they decided to pay millions of dollars to buy an online forum, months after they tried to set up their own. This seems to be a tacit admission of failure. Well actually it screams to me that STOMP sucked, big time. Consider this, STOMP had a large advertising budget. Hardware Zone did not. While Hardware Zone moved a few years earlier online, Straits Times had a presence decades before it. There is a reason why Hardware Zone succeeded and STOMP failed. No one goes online to be brainwashed. Having SPH control what is supposed to be an independent forum means that people will have doubts about being watched and feel dirty for collaborating with them. Sure there will still be gossip mongers there and it is true that there is not much political talk that could be censored there. But think about it, would you prefer using a forum controlled by SPH or one that is not?

Their latest move against their own comrades at the National Arts Council has been the most spectacular and arguably most successful move of the suicidal monkeys in charge at SPH. For some reason, the editors at the Straits Times have released an article criticising the Arts Council, who have for some reason, bothered to respond. I wonder if they know that no one really takes the Straits Times seriously anymore. Then again, I’m not really sure if I should take the Arts Council seriously.

Anyway, I’m tired of writing. What I see now is that Singapore’s propaganda machine is falling apart and the apparatchik controlling them are trying in vain to hold it up. I can scarcely contain my glee as it the machine comes tumbling down. For Liberty!

Straits Times on the News Again

24 September, 2006

The Straits Times has managed to get itself on the news again. The recent cases where they labelled thousands of schoolgirls in Singapore as “easy” and insisted on revealing the retirement of the CEO of some government linked organisation makes it seem like they have nothing left to write about and are making news up.

You can argue that’s all the Straits Times have been doing but they usually make things up at the request of the government, not against their paymasters. These two incidents seem to suggest that things are changing there.

Maybe it’s because they are losing readers and have no good writers anymore. The solution to this, to report the truth and keep the increasingly well-educated readers and journalists with souls, is blindingly obvious but obviously could not be done with their current masters. Since the last time they raked in money was from a lawsuit, they seem to think that libel was the way to sell newspapers. Pardon me when I say this because I seriously doubt that the courts would actually allow anyone to suggest that Singapore’s ministries run schools that turn girls into whores, even if, and I do not think this is the case, that it is true. We all know how the legal system here works. The editor would probably burn in hell for the balsphemous statements about Catholic schools but then again he’s probably headed for it anyway.

If that was misguided, the other step they chose was simply stupid. First off, I seriously do not think anyone would care about the CEO whose name I can’t remember wanting to retire. Going against the wishes of a CEO who blogs to write about something no one really cares about, is plain stupid. That’s how you tell the whole world about your lack of journalistic integrity and get nothing out of it. The issue on IJ girls might have attracted some readers but the only news here is about Straits Times. It screams to me saying Straits Times has no news left to write about because all the real and interesting stuff has been censored. Seriously, is 2 weeks too long to wait?

If the Straits times wants to keep its readers it has to wake up and smell the broadband connection. Without giving accurate news and good analysis, they would just send their readers to bloggers. Surely that’s not how you are going to brainwash future generations now is it?

Singapore’s Transport Market Distortions

28 July, 2006

The Capitalist Infidel has been watching as people around Singapore whine about transport price hikes again. This annual exercise has been carried out for years and nothing useful has come out of it. This is mainly because Singaporeans are barking up the wrong tree. The hikes come because the market is distorted, not because of the belligerence of the companies involved.

The Capitalist Infidel would like to remind the people of Singapore that private companies exist for the sake of making a profit. They have a duty to their shareholders to maximise profit. That means increasing prices and lowering costs. In free market, they should be allowed to set whatever prices they wish. The market then decides whether they are willing to pay for it or if they will look for substitutes. Therefore, what they are doing, as profit seeking companies is correct.

However, Singapore’s market for Transport has been warped by government demands for the purchase of a Certificate Of Entitlement(COE) for the ownership of private cars. Private cars are the only reasonable substitute available for the consumers. All other forms of motorised transportation, the only means of travelling to work by most commuters here are controlled by two companies, both of which serve different areas of Singapore.

The COE was first introduced to control the number of cars on the road to reduce congestion. But we now have electronic tolls in the form of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP). Therefore, we have a new tool to deal with congestion on the roads. With COE, whoever paid for it could drive as much as they wanted anywhere they wanted without incurring extra costs. With ERP, we can control the traffic by having people pay toll, so that they have incentives for using alternate roads and are in fact paying for any negative externalities they cost.

And of course if there was still congestion, prices could be raised or we could allow it to sort itself out. After all, there is only that much money people are willing to pay to sit in a traffic jam and people should be allowed to do so if they so choose. The unhindered buses on bus only lanes and trains in the Mass Rapid Tranist (MRT) system will only look more attractive to the people sitting in jams then.

The Capitalist Infidel supports the idea of public transportation because it reduces pollution and congestion but using COE not the way to go about it. COE does not discourage people from driving cars they already own. ERP does. And it is not the cars sitting in garages that cause problems, it is those on the road.

The Capitalist Infidel suggests that COE be scrapped and that the use of ERP be increased. This will let Singaporeans make better choices and no longer be price takers of public transport companies. It will allow Singaporeans a choice between having a car and paying to enter congested areas or taking public transport to avoid such charges and congestion.

Public Transport should still be subsidised, but in such a way that it helps them reduce costs and therefore prices so that they can attract customers. The way it should have been in the first place. Not what it is like now, when the prices of substitutes are increased which ends up in unfair prices from public transport companies, because they can.

This article is also posted on Honest Opinion

Racial What?

26 July, 2006

The Capitalist Infidel has been really tired of how Singapore keeps trying to force the concept of racial harmony down the throats of its people. The Capitalist Infidel is also tired of how brainwashed Singaporeans take such concepts in a textbook manner and repeat old war stories, which is the approach the administration here takes towards everything.

The administration here seems to think that they can brainwash everyone into their thinking and honestly speaking, they have good reason to. But racial harmony is not a set of rules you learn, or print behind every textbook to drill into the heads of schoolchildren. By forcing people into such matters, the administration could well be making things worse. And in any case, The Capitalist Infidel cannot accept such hypocritical practices.

All this is not because The Capitalist Infidel does not support the idea of different races living together but the fact that the direction of all this is wrong. Being a Liberal, The Capitalist Infidel firmly believes in embracing, or at least accepting differences between people. But forcing ideas into people is wrong and counterproductive.

Racial Harmony Day, an event in Singapore that is supposed to celebrate our differences is an excellent example of this. To be honest, The Capitalist Infidel does not really care about the race, religion or nationality of the people he interacts with every day and is effectively colour blind. There are many more people, Singaporeans included, just like that. Racial Harmony Day changes all that. It highlights the differences between us. It makes us remember that we are different. For what? The Capitalist Infidel feels that it is good enough we are all human. There is a reason we do not have Gender Harmony Day, such events point out differences that do not need to be pointed out and will end up polarising the different sides.

In any case, The Capitalist Infidel has reason to believe that the administration’s drive to achieve racial harmony is less than totally altruistic. The Capitalist Infidel has always been told about how we are surrounded by Muslim neighbours and are always in danger from their attacks. That doesn’t look like what say they want us to think. Add the well known fact that Singapore’s Armour (we don’t have tanks, just the miniature versions of it) divisions have no Muslims, and suddenly, a different picture emerges.

There is in fact a test case for whether Singapore truly believes that we should celebrate our differences and not doing it for more sinister reasons. The Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to bear arms, among other things, making them unable to serve in the armed forces, which all Singaporean menare forced to do. This has resulted in them being thrown in Detention Barracks, the military prison, all for their beliefs. It is not as if they could not be allowed to serve in the Civil Defence, the administration just seems to want to punish those whose views are different from it. The Racial Harmony drive is a sham!

And things like that do not happen just in the armed forces. After the September 11th attacks, Singapore started having people check the bags of people entering the Mass Rapid Transit(MRT), Singapore’s version of the subway. I was once approached by one of the guards who apologised while she was going through my bag, telling me that they had to check the bags of non-Malays sometimes so that the Malays will not get upset over it. While I appreciated the fact that people had their bags checked for security in times like that, I was appalled by such statements. I saw just how easy it was to walk right past them with a bomb(which really wasn’t hard anyway, the checks were random and few people got checked). Not just that. Racism could rear its ugly head so easily in Singapore, land of propaganda.

This shows how important it is to get the fundamentals right. We need to teach our children the importance and the significance of Liberty. That we need to accept each other’s differences and embrace the fact that we are all human. Liberty is what holds a country up in the end. Not propaganda.

Are You Being Served?

13 July, 2006

The Capitalist Infidel has been reading and hearing about the awful standards of service in Singapore. Luckily for him, his own experiences with lousy service has been pretty limited so what he knows comes mainly from the complaints of others. The Capitalist Infidel feels, however that the quality of service you recieve is firmly within your control.

The most important point is to treat the staff with respect. Be nice. Smile. It sounds like it’s coming out of the customer service manual but remember that whoever is serving you experiences the same range of emotions as you do. Can you imagine being rude to a stranger who’s nice to you? Well, the staff in most shops certainly won’t do that, although many customers do. Just because you are paying doesn’t make them your serfs and remember, if you are in a restaurant, these are the people who will be handling your food.

Have you noticed how foreigners always seem to get better service in Singapore? The Capitalist Infidel has seen how some smiles turn into scowls as a Singaporean customer takes the place of a foreign one. The Capitalist Infidel suspects Singapore is the only country in the world where the citizens actually discriminate against the locals.

This could be due to the fact that Singaporeans have been rude customers since Singaporeans existed or the fact that there is a much higher chance of getting a tip from foreign customers. It doesn’t really matter, there is little we can do about that. If you wish to recieve decent service, do not speak in Singlish. No matter what your friends tell you about how it makes Singaporeans unique and gives them a sense of identity, it is impossible to get any respect with it, even with the punk behind the counter who tells all his friends how it makes Singaporeans unique and gives them a sense of identity.

And of course there is the ridiculous notion that compulsory tipping will help increase service standards. Yes it’s called the Service Charge it is one of the last examples of Communism in the world. Whoever thought of it had no idea what he was doing. The Capitalist Infidel certainly does not understand what possesed the sick and twisted mind of it’s creator. At least Communism was created with noble intentions. Service Charge is just plain stupid.

The name Service Charge implies that you are paying for service, However, this money does not go to whoever is serving you. It goes to the restaurant owner. It is also 10% of whatever food you ordered. The Capitalist Infidel has no idea how anyone decided on that figure.

It doesn’t really matter how many tables the waiter serves, he gets nothing more. It doesn’t matter how good his service is, he won’t get tipped because the customers are told not to, it’s covered in the service charge. The restaurant will take the fruits of his labour. How would you feel in his shoes? Would you feel like giving better service?
However hard he works, he gets nothing. Capitalism and in fact basic economics highlights the importance and power of incentives. That is what the economies of the Western world was based on. That is the power of incentives, the power of the hidden hand.

Of course customers on the recieving end of poor service often feel that the service charge was injustified. How can you be forced to pay for something you did not recieve, and at such an arbitrary price? How often have the restaurants hidden the true cost of food served behind the veil of Service charge?

Guess what, you can do something about it. If the service is bad, tell the restaurant you will not be paying the Service Charge. It’s tried and tested. The Capitalist Infidel did that with Szez at a restaurant on Mt. Faber. The service was horrible and the manager didn’t even dare talk to us.

So the next time you are expecting service, be nice, avoid Singlish and do not eat where you have arguments with the staff before your food is served. Also, feel free to demand that Service Charge be waived, but leave it as a tip for a nice waiter with good service.